Richard G. Petty, MD

Going to College with Attention Deficit Disorder

I’ve recommended
before: it always contains a treasure trove of practical tips for
people who have or whose family members have attention deficit disorder
(ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This month features an interesting
article by Marissa Kantor on planning for college. This is a tough time
for everyone. The structure of high school and home life are replaced
by a far more free wheeling life style where mom and the school
teachers are no longer there to act as surrogate frontal lobes. Marissa
lists seven essential life skills. Her list is terrific, but I would
like to extend it to what I see as the Fifteen Essential Skills that
anyone with ADD or ADHD needs to master before he or she can head off
to college. The keys to success are organization, stability and

1.    Learning to manage not just
time, but energy: what to do and when, and also how much effort to put
into individual tasks: people need to be taught how to use and
organizer and how not to lose it!

2.    Having good sleep habits:
getting enough and waking up on time: There is more and more evidence
that people with ADD and ADHD are prone to sleep disturbances that may
increase the risk of a mood or anxiety disorder

3.    Managing money

4.    Taking regular physical
exercise is an important aspect of living a balanced life: many people
trace their adult inactivity to their college days

5.    Being able to cook simple, nutritious meals

6.    Doing laundry on a regular schedule

7.    Being able to keep track of appointments

8.    Remembering and fulfilling deadlines

9.    Being able to keep on target with academic assignments

10.    Working with teachers, tutors
and counselors: who must all be aware that the person has a difficulty
which may need some special help

11.    Using medications – or other
treatment strategies – appropriately and getting medicines refilled
before they run out: we studiously avoid making medication changes
during school time, and particularly when exams are looming; another
good reason for not stopping and re-starting medicines during vacations

12.    Avoiding the temptations of
alcohol, substance abuse and relaxed attitudes toward sex are really
important and also the most difficult to achieve: have a look at my
article about some of the potentially disastrous consequences of
untreated ADD/ADHD; even with treatment, young people are likely to be
a least somewhat predisposed to these problems

13.    Maintaining healthy
relationships: it is very valuable for young people to learn about the
impacts of positive and negative inter-personal relationships before
they leave for college. They may well meet toxic people in college, and
we can help them identify, void and detach from them

14.    Maintaining a spiritual life
can be very helpful to the young person with ADD/ADHD: they may well
have had an active spiritual life while at home, and it’s a good thing
to encourage some continuing form of spiritual awareness or spiritual
practice. Not only is it a stabilizing factor, but it is important for
people to be in the habit of thinking about thing outside themselves

15.    ADD/ADHD is not all bad: we
don’t want to romanticize a very real difficulty, but before the young person leaves for college it is well worth getting into the habit
of seeing that there may be some positive aspects to the illness. Does
the person with ADD/ADHD have a particularly entrepreneurial or
creative flair, or an affinity with nature or with animals? Consciously
thinking about the positives years in advance can pay enormous
dividends during the early years in college.

Each of these items could easily
fill a whole article. But something for family members to keep in mind
is this: ADD/ADHD can be a serious problem that requires serious
treatments. It can be a Labor of Hercules to keep young people on
track, but remember that if you are a parent, you will likely have some
leverage, particularly if you are helping them financially.

Technorati tags:

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

logo logo logo logo logo logo